Organic, Natural & Artificial: The Truth Behind the Labels

It seems like recently every morning when we wake up there is something new to be horrified by. Whether it be another mass shooting, hate crime, or environmental catastrophe, the punches keep on rolling. And if the food industry wasn't already upsetting enough as it is, a recent article by Maureen Callahan of the NY Post shed some light on what it's really like to eat out at restaurants. Apparently, everything we eat is a scam. That includes the grass fed beef you just bought, along with your expensive extra-virgin olive oil, and basically every piece of sushi you've ever eaten.

From seafood, to meat, and even Parmesan cheese, the food industry has been faking us out for years. If you're lucky, you're tasting a knock-off, or an item very similar in taste to what you purchased. And if you're unlucky? Well...let's just hope you're not! You may be thinking, what does this have to do with my skincare routine? Everything.

Nourishing your body from the inside AND outside is essential for obtaining the youthful, healthy skin you desire. It can be hard to do this in a world where marketing, labels, and information is continuously misleading. When it comes to the food industry and the skincare/beauty industry, the same rules apply. At the end of the day, most businesses want to make money, and the quality and purity of the product is at risk because of this. So when purchasing beauty products, it is essential to know exactly what the label means and what the ingredients really do to your body. Here at Pure Luxe Skin, we do the dirty work for you, and have provided you with the ultimate guide of terms found on both food and skincare packaging.

Artificial: made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally, typically as a copy of something natural.

Botanical: a substance obtained from a plant and used as an additive, especially in gin or cosmetics.

Chemical: a compound or substance that has been purified or prepared, especially artificially.

Cruelty Free: (of cosmetics or other commercial products) manufactured or developed by methods that do not involve experimentation on animals. This does not mean that the products are vegetarian or vegan.

Eco-Cert: ECOCERT is a worldwide certifier of organic farmed products, and is accredited to certify organic ingredients according to the NOP standards under the USDA. It has become a leader in organic certification standards. ECOCERT is a non-government agency that has extended beyond agriculture to include other industries.

Free-range: (of livestock, especially poultry) kept in natural conditions, with freedom of movement.(of eggs) produced by birds reared under natural conditions. Does not mean organic, grass fed, or hormone free.

Gluten-Free: Made without gluten, a common protein found in wheat.

GMO: A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e., a genetically engineered organism). GMOs are used to produce many medications and genetically modified foods and are widely used in scientific research and to produce other goods.

Grassfed: the USDA recently created a very narrow legal definition of “grassfed,” which focuses primarily on what animals eat. But it does not deal with other issues consumers care about—like the use of hormones and antibiotics, confinement of animals, and environmental stewardship.

Hormone-free: There is no government or official definition for this term except on meat and poultry products as defined by the US Department of Agriculture. Use of the term “hormone free” is considered “unapprovable” by USDA on any meat products. Meat and poultry products carrying the “no hormones administered” claim imply that the animal must not have received any added hormones during the course of its lifetime.

Green America Green Business Certification: Green America certifies businesses that are: Actively using their business as a tool for positive social change;Operating a "values-driven" enterprise according to principles of social justice AND environmental sustainability; Environmentally responsible in the way they source, manufacture, and market their products and run their operations and facilities; Socially equitable and committed to extraordinary practices that benefit workers, customers, communities, and the environment; and Accountable for their work by continually improving and tracking their progress, and operating with transparency in every facet of their business.

Natural: existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind. Means next to nothing on a label, except that the strawberry you are eating is indeed, a real strawberry.

Non-Comedogenic: denoting a skin-care product or cosmetic that is specially formulated so as not to cause blocked pores.

Organic: agriculture that produces products using methods that preserve the environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as pesticides and antibiotics.

Paraben-Free: Not containing parabens. Parabens are among the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetic products. Chemically, parabens are esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid.The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reviewed the safety of methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in 1984 and concluded they were safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25%. Typically parabens are used at levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.3%. A study published in 2004 (Darbre, in the Journal of Applied Toxicology) detected parabens in breast tumors. The study also discussed this information in the context of the weak estrogen-like properties of parabens and the influence of estrogen on breast cancer. However, the study left several questions unanswered.

Preservative: a substance used to preserve foodstuffs, wood, or other materials against decay. Often made of chemical compounds, although some are natural like certain vitamins or antioxidants.

Raised w/o Antibiotics: Antibiotic-free” is meaningless. A claim never authorized by the USDA, it has no clear or consistent meaning on labels.

Raw/Living: Uncooked foods/ingredients that have not been heated above 48 degrees centigrade (117 degrees Fahrenheit), maintaining their highest nutritional or medicinal values.

Sulfate: sulfates, essentially, are what make shampoos or soaps turn into a thick lather when meeting water. This ingredient, which is standard for most shampoo (and household cleaning) products, has come under attack for causing frizziness (especially in curly hair) and damaging colored hair. Switch to a sulfate-free formula if you have allergies, eczema or find your current cleanser/shampoo irritating to the skin.

Sustainable: Environmental sustainability is the ability to maintain rates of renewable resource harvest, pollution creation, and non-renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely.

Synthetic: (of a substance) made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product.

USDA Certified Organic: Congress described general organic principles in the Organic Foods Production Act, and the USDA defines specific organic standards. These standards cover the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives. Look for the USDA certified label, as this is the only confirmation the product is actually organic and follows these standards.

Vegetarian: Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.

Vegan: Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

Look for the labels below on all of your food and skincare products!